By Alan Liere

Fly fishing

Silver Bow Fly Shop said wintertime opportunities on the Spokane River have been good. Water levels have dropped slightly and overall are manageable for this time of the year.

Focus on slower currents with some depth. Streamer fishing and nymphs are the way to go.

The Snake River continues to be a good swing option for steelhead, although water temperatures have dropped a few degrees lately. The Grande Ronde has come back into shape and is looking good now. Nymphing will be most productive on the Grande Ronde.

Despite being cold this week, the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River will be an option. Next week will probably see ice forming and it will be a dredger’s game until spring. Get your files down and keep them down in slower/deeper water.

Open water fishing

From the middle of Porcupine Bay up to Buoy 5, Spokane Arm water is quite murky with low visibility, so walleye fishing has been better in the main Columbia on Casino Flats, Outhouse Flats and across from Seven Bays. A black jig with a watermelon flake grub has worked better than anything.

If you have a boat, the water in front of the docks across from the Fort Spokane launch by the casino have good burbot fishing. Fishing is no longer allowed from the docks. Burbot fishing also remains popular on Bead Lake despite the long walk down from the road.

Old Goat Lures have been deadly for rainbow on Lake Roosevelt . The smaller size pink has done the best. Few kokanee are reported caught. Rock Lake browns and rainbow are also fond of the Old Goat Lures, and brown Needlefish have also taken their share.

Some big (5-8 pounds) triploids have been taken from shore at Brandts Landing on Rufus Woods Reservoir. Power Bait on a slip sinker is all it takes – the same rig shore fishermen use on Lake Roosevelt.

This is the beginning of the prespawn walleye bite, which is the best time of the year to catch trophy fish in the Columbia River system. A few big fish have been reported from the waters near the Tri-Cities.

Ice fishing

Sacheen Lake ice fishermen are making some huge catches of perch, but you won’t find much action in the big bay at the public launch. If you can walk the walk, a friend said, fishing is good way down the lake in 40 feet of water. There are all sizes of fish up to 10 inches.

Diamond Lake has been good for perch in deep water. The fish seem to have moved to depths of 35 feet and more. Waitts Lake perch are difficult to find, but some nice 14- to 16-inch browns and rainbow are showing out from the public access.

Bear and Eloika lakes have good ice and the perch fishing is fair. Tiny tungsten jigs tipped with maggots have been best. In Eloika, look for the deepest water you can find, which most likely won’t be over 15 feet.

Oddly, although Bear Lake has much deeper water, the best fishing has also been at the same 15-foot depth. A friend has taken an oversized largemouth in each of our last two trips to Bear.

Burbot fishing is catching on at Davis Lake. The challenge is finding them and getting down to their exact location. In Davis, a few feet in the wrong direction will often put you over the edge of a shelf where your bait will fall far below the fish.

The ice is OK at Williams and Hatch lakes, but the trout fishing is slow. Hog Canyon Lake has been better.

Thomas Lake is said to be kicking out big catches of perch and some crappie. The average size is of the perch is 8 inches.

Bonaparte Lake has been giving up good catches of perch and some nice tiger trout. Leader Lake has decent crappie fishing through the ice. Fish Lake, near Lake Wenatchee, has been consistent for perch.

There are 8 inches of solid ice covered with about 6 inches of slush on Fish Lake near Wenatchee. With subfreezing weather expected Sunday, there should be good ice fishing there (and elsewhere) through February.

In Idaho near Coeur d’Alene, Fernan Lake ice is thin along the shore. Anglers who access the ice from a dock say the ice is 6 inches thick once you get away from the shoreline.

Hauser has probably been the best perch destination in North Idaho this winter. The bite has been good early and again from 3 p.m. until dark. Hauser has 6 inches of decent ice, but it thins some 200 yards out. Like Fernan, Hauser ice is breaking up around the shore, so the best access is from the dock. There are good numbers of perch available, but most are around 8 inches.

Upper Twin Lake still has 6 inches of good ice under the frozen slush layer. Upper Twin has even more ice. The perch are small. Lake Cocolalla has good ice and a decent late-afternoon perch bite.

Blue Lake has 11 inches of solid ice and a crappie bite beginning late in the afternoon which gets better after dark. The fish are suspended 4 feet off the bottom in 12 feet of water.

Ice is holding up on the lakes north of Coeur d’Alene. Kelso has decent trout fishing and Gamble has some big perch. The Chain Lakes have pike, but the ice there can get iffy fast.


Washington duck and Canada goose seasons end after Sunday. Until that date, Canada geese will be open every day in Units 4 and 5.

Contact Alan Liere at